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Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
Hadassah, Queen Esther of Persia by Diana Wallis Taylor is the story of Hadassah, a young Jewish girl who became the queen of the Persian empire and played an important role in saving the Jewish people in that kingdom. Hadassah lost her parents and lived with Mordecai (whom she called Abba) and Jerusha (whom she called Imah) in Susa. Mordecai worked in King Darius's treasury and was in awe of the king and his deeds. Susa flourished under his rule. As she grew, Hadassah's parents noticed that she was becoming beautiful. Marriage occupied Hadassah's thoughts and she was attracted to Shamir whom she used to see in the synagogue and dreamed of being his wife one day.
Things changed in Susa after the king's death, when his son Xerxes became king. He believed in Ahura Mazda, the Zoroastrian god, but he did not interfere with the Hebrew religion and the Jews had the freedom to live in the city. The king decided to hold a banquet to impress his officers, officials, and satraps, and also speak about his plans to invade Greece. Things were not the same in Susa and in Hadassah's life after she lost Jerusha. In the meantime, the king who had divorced Queen Vashti, was on the lookout for a new queen. Would Mordecai be able to save Hadassah? Would Hadassah's prayers to Adonai save her? Would King Xerxes return triumphant from Greece?
It is a beautiful story of love, hope, faith, and betrayal that will pull in readers. The author knits love, faith, history, and God's role into the plot seamlessly, giving the story a sort of purity and dignity despite having villains in it. The narration is simple and detailed and all the characters will remain etched in the minds of readers even after they finish the book. The story is also about how Hadassah (who changes her name to Esther before being taken to the king's palace) saves the Jews in the kingdom after the Prime Minister, Haman, tricks the king into signing a decree to get rid of all the Jews in the kingdom. The Feast of Purim is still celebrated by all Jews in honor of her bravery. And as Mordecai, her Abba, tells her: "Perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this."